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  • News in Brief

    As CO2 increases, rice loses B vitamins and other nutrients

    By the end of this century, rice may not deliver the same B vitamin levels that it does today. Protein and certain minerals will dwindle, too, new data suggest.

    Testing higher carbon dioxide concentrations in experimental rice paddies in China predicts losses in four vitamins — B1, B2, B5 and B9 — an international team reports May 23 in Science Advances. Adding results from similar...

    05/23/2018 - 16:17 Climate, Agriculture
  • Experiences

    What genetic tests from 23andMe, Veritas and Genos really told me about my health

    Direct-to-consumer genetic testing first came on the market about a decade ago, but I resisted the temptation to see what health information is hidden in my DNA — until now.

    As a molecular biology writer, I’ve been skeptical that the field of genetics is mature enough to accurately predict health (see related article). What finally motivated me to send away my DNA in the mail was the...

    05/22/2018 - 12:00 Genetics, Health
  • Feature

    Consumer DNA testing promises more than it delivers

    In Nevada, 40,000 people are stepping up to the cutting edge of precision medicine. They are getting their DNA deciphered by the testing company Helix. The idea of the Healthy Nevada project is to link genetic and medical data with information about the environment to get a clearer picture of all the factors that influence health. The free tests are going like hot cakes.

    When the Healthy...

    05/22/2018 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News

    A caterpillar outwits corn defenses by gorging on fattening ‘junk’ food

    Here’s the story of a caterpillar that foils gruesome violence orchestrated by corn.

    No, that’s not backward. Plants often look helpless to a human, but they fight with smells and other invisible chemistry. A growing body of evidence, for example, shows that plants under attack can waft out scents that attract help, such as tiny wasps that deal a lingering death to leaf-chewing...

    05/22/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Plants, Ecology
  • News

    Keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees C helps most species hold their ground

    Limiting global warming this century to just 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures would be a boon to the planet’s biodiversity. This lower warming threshold, compared with warming of 2 degrees C, will preserve much larger swaths of the geographic ranges of tens of thousands of land-based species of plants, vertebrates and insects living on the planet, a new study suggests.

    ...
    05/17/2018 - 14:21 Earth, Climate, Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Nanoparticles could help rescue malnourished crops

    Synthetic nanoparticles used to fight cancer could also heal sickly plants.

    The particles, called liposomes, are nanosized, spherical pouches that can deliver drugs to specific parts of the body (SN: 12/16/06, p. 398). Now, researchers have filled these tiny care packages with fertilizing nutrients. The new liposomes, described online May 17 in Scientific Reports, soak into plant leaves...

    05/17/2018 - 09:00 Agriculture, Technology
  • The Science Life

    With a little convincing, rats can detect tuberculosis

    What do land mines and tuberculosis have in common? Both kill people in developing countries — and both can be sniffed out by rodents that grow up to 3 feet, head to tail.

    Since 2000, the international nonprofit APOPO has partnered with Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture to train African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) to pick up the scent of TNT in land mines. By 2016...

    05/14/2018 - 15:01 Animals, Microbes, Health
  • Science Stats

    Globetrotting tourists are leaving a giant carbon footprint on the Earth

    Going green may mean staying at home.

    Global tourism contributes about 8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, researchers report May 7 in Nature Climate Change. That carbon footprint is about three times as large as tourism-related emissions estimated by previous studies.

    The jump is largely because the new study doesn’t just tally up emissions from the...

    05/07/2018 - 11:00 Climate, Earth
  • Feature

    Fighting like an animal doesn’t always mean a duel to the death

    Pick an animal.

    Choose wisely because in this fantasy you’ll transform into the creature and duel against one of your own. If you care about survival, go for the muscular, multispiked stag roaring at a rival. Never, ever pick the wingless male fig wasp. Way too dangerous.

    This advice sounds exactly wrong. But that’s because many stereotypes of animal conflict get the real biology...

    05/03/2018 - 15:05 Animals
  • News

    The first smallpox treatment is one step closer to FDA approval

    As bioterrorism fears grow, the first treatment for smallpox is nearing approval.

    Called tecovirimat, the drug stops the variola virus, which causes smallpox, from sending out copies of itself and infecting other cells. “If the virus gets ahead of your immune system, you get sick,” says Dennis Hruby, the chief scientific officer of pharmaceutical company SIGA Technologies, which took...

    05/02/2018 - 18:06 Health